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What Happened to the Raspberries Rollswagen?

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Who Won The Raspberries Rollswagen Contest
by Ryan Richardson
 
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In early 1973, Capitol Records embarked on a Raspberries promotional campaign aimed squarely at the lucrative youth market, girls in particular. In conjunction with Star, the Raspberries Rollswagen sweepstakes was announced in the magazine's debut issue and was promoted through its fourth issue with entries accepted through the end of May. The Rollswagen was yet another over-the-top Barris Kustom creation, complete with "foxy fur" upholstery and a Quadrasonic 8-track player (natch). One issue later in June 1973, Petersen abruptly ceased publication of Star.
 
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I couldn't help but wonder... whatever happened to the Rollswagen? Dedicated dozens of Eric Carmen fans wanted to know, too. In November 2014, while looking for Star ads in another teen mag issued by Petersen, a piece of the puzzle popped forth:
 
A cursory Google search turned up a Billboard announcement that the winner was from Florida and that there'd been 31,000 contest entries. Having logged many years sleuthing for long-lost band members, I felt confident I could find Teena — and maybe the Rollswagen. The uncommon spelling and surname helped narrow the search in a hurry, though experience told me maiden names often go by the wayside. Eventually a search by family name and the tiny Florida hometown led to a newspaper piece where Teena's married name was mentioned. A few minutes later, I jumped onto this era's one-stop-shop for people finding, Facebook, and sent off a message. That evening a reply appeared: "I will give a call tomorrow."
 
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For a town with fewer than 4000 residents, Teena's big win was a big deal. There was a parade. The mayor presented a key to the city to Jim Bonfanti, the Raspberries member Teena deemed "foxiest" and who'd flown in along with Capitol execs for the hand-off. With Teena being three years shy of driving age, the Rollswagen wound up with an older cousin, though she did wind up learning how to drive a stick-shift in it! And so I had to ask: where's the Rollswagen now? Her answer was nothing short of thrilling: "it may still be in my aunt's backyard." With four decades elapsed in the coastal outdoors, the best case scenario would be a rusted-out Rollswagen, a shadow of its former glam glory. Still, I was already imagining a roadtrip to see the thing.
 
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After no word from her cousin and a month gone by since we'd first spoken, Teena decided to drive the half hour to her aunt's place. A look around revealed no sign of the mythic vehicle, inevitably vanished in the gulf between way back when and way too late. Her cousin later confirmed the Rollswagen had been junked long ago. Could it have really turned out differently? Probably not. But, hey, a little dreaming never hurt. In fact it's almost required for some things — like morphing a Volkswagen Beetle into a souped-up Rolls Royce or, well, sending off a sweepstakes entry. Just ask those guys who sang Let's Pretend.
 
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__________
 
The most often asked Raspberries question... What happened to the Rollswagen...
 
All of the answers here (in full color!)—Wow!
 
:o
 
Bernie
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I used to drive around in a '69 Firebird convertible which I loved.  If I'd won the Rollswagen, believe me, I'd still be driving it. :cool:

Lucky Teena for being the winner of the contest -- and for hanging out with "foxy Jim B."

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Batman   

I was just about ready to start searching the dark corners of the Batcave to see if the Rollswagen was tucked away somewhere when I read the link that said it was junked. How sad.

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GirlFan   

At least now we know what happened to the Raspberries Rollswagon but of course if I were alive back when they had the contest I would have picked Eric as the foxiest Rasperry :P:P Tammy Quick :P:P

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MikeC   

What a great story. I wonder which junkyard it went to. It couldn't be too far from her aunt's  house.

The junkyard must have thought it was just a fan who painted the words, if they were readable, from rusting. 

But, it would have stood out, because of the front of the car.

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susie b   

So crazy to junk it.

Vintage VW's, customized or not, are SO easy to restore!

Hopefully, someone junkyard picked it.

Maybe it's a project car in someone's garage. :cool:

If it gets restored, you can bet that it will appear at one of the vintage VW rallies like the big one in Effingham, IL.

I'll ask around on my air cooled VW forums.

Still love driving my 1974 Karmann Ghia, but only in nice weather!

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Kirk   

Nice sleuthing by the author...in a way, it's good to know, but, it takes away the faded hope that I might still find the car intact someday- Oh, Raspberries!! 

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AnneNR   

It would be very interesting if the story could be picked up from the junkyard drop off to someone else possibly wanting to restore it, as Susie B speculated.  Until it is known for certain that someone acknowledges it was scrapped or crushed, somebody could very well have cherry picked it out of the lot to revive the poor thing. . . so there is still a glimmer!!

You would think, though, that something that was that big a deal for that small town, that whoever was keeping the vehicle would have taken better care of it than let it "go to seed" and end up in a junkyard !  :(  . . . wahhh!!!

I hope Susie B can ferret out a more definitive conclusion, if that is possible. . . here's hoping it ain't over yet.

AnneNR

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What a shame. I admire the author's tenacity, though, and a big thumbs-up for the nod to EC.com fans. 

Teena was a cutie. Awesome that the town gave Jim the red-carpet treatment.

Cheryl

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AnneNR   

I think Teena should have had the Raspberries Rolls for sure when she was of age, it sounds like the cousin got what she entered for and won instead of Teena (?)  :(

AnneNR 

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susie b   

Possibilities......

A friend of a friend of a friend responded to my VW post...

Apparently there is a guy who is a junkyard picker, and this friend thinks the picker may have our car, BUT, this time of year the picker is usually in South America...Brazil...picking old Dubs.

This picker warehouses 100's of old Dubs for parts & restoration and may not know what he has....if he has it.

I've got my VW guys in pursuit....we'll see.

Will keep you posted!!!!!

:)

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AnneNR   

QUICK!!!!  SOMEONE CONTACT THE "AMERICAN PICKERS" TO HELP SLEUTH THIS THROUGH ---- THEY LOVE THIS KINDA THING!!!

AnneNR

6  6
|__/

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susie b   

Hey Jim,
 
Good eye! I see the car and am looking hard at that rear quarter panel to see if it had a mod at one time...hard to tell????
 
Also looking at roof to see if that is dirt on a hard top or the remanents of a canvas sun roof cover.  Again, hard to tell. I believe it is a Super Beetle and not a Beetle.  Poor thing, no running boards. Would love to see a better shot of the vehicle.
 
Please pardon the car geek enthusiasm! Ready for some "axel grease embedded 'neath her fingernails". Brian Wilson/ Roger Christian

Susie

PS   Good find, Anne!!!!!!!!

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